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Thomas Lincoln Casey Sr.

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Thomas Lincoln Casey Sr. (May 10, 1831 – March 25, 1896) was a noted military and civil engineer of the late 19th Century. He served as Chief of Engineers for the United States Army Corps of Engineers and oversaw the completion of the Washington Monument.

Thomas Lincoln Casey Sr.
Thomas Lincoln Casey.jpg
Thomas Lincoln Casey
Born (1831-05-10)May 10, 1831
Sackets Harbor, New York
Died March 25, 1896(1896-03-25) (aged 64)
Washington, D.C.
Place of burial North Kingstown, Rhode Island
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1852–1895
Rank Union Army brigadier general rank insignia.svg Brigadier General
Commands held Chief of Engineers
Battles/wars American Civil War
Children Edward Pearce Casey, Thomas Lincoln Casey Jr.
Relations Silas Casey (father)



Casey was born into a prominent family that lived on Casey Farm in Saunderstown, Rhode Island for 200 years.[1] This family included an admiral, generals, engineers and scientists. Casey's grandfather Wanton Casey was a member of the Kentish Guards of East Greenwich during the American Revolution.[1]

Thomas Lincoln's father Major General Silas Casey led the assault on Chapultepec Castle in the Battle of Chapultepec in the Mexican-American War and also served as a major general in the American Civil War. His brother Silas Casey III was a rear admiral in the United States Navy and commander of the Pacific Fleet from 1901 to 1903.[1]


Casey was born in Sackets Harbor, New York. He graduated first in his class from West Point in 1852 and was assigned to the Corps of Engineers. He taught engineering at West Point from 1854 to 1859. During the American Civil War he oversaw construction and improvements to coastal fortifications in Maine, completing the massive Fort Knox on the Penobscot River as well as work on Fort Preble, Fort Scammel and Fort Gorges near Portland.

Casey headed the division the Office of the Chief of Engineers responsible for military engineers, equipment, and fortifications. From 1877 to 1881, Casey headed the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds, District of Columbia. He had design responsibility for the State, War, and Navy Building, which is now the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. He re-designed and completed the Washington Monument after problems arose with the original design.

He was promoted to brigadier general as assigned as Chief of Engineers on July 6, 1888. He retired from the Army on May 10, 1895 having reached the mandatory retirement age of 64.

He worked on the design of the Thomas Jefferson Building, which houses the Library of Congress; it was nearly completed when he died suddenly on March 25, 1896. Upon his death, responsibility for the project passed to his son, architect Edward Pearce Casey. Another son, Colonel Thomas Lincoln Casey Jr., had a 33-year career in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was a noted entomologist.

Casey was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and an officer of the Legion of Honor of France. In 1882 he succeeded his father as a member of the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati. He was also a First Class Companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.

Thomas Lincoln Casey was buried with his father and other family members at the Casey Farm in Saunderstown, Rhode Island.[2]


P. H. McLaughlin setting the capstone (aluminum apex) on the Washington Monument. Colonel Thomas Lincoln Casey has his hands up.

The Washington MonumentEdit

Casey's most famous project was the completion of the Washington Monument.[1] Construction on the monument had been abandoned 24 years earlier, in 1854, due to technical and managerial problems. In its place stood a 170-foot tall pile of marble which was leaning to the northwest due to an unstable foundation. The structure was a public embarrassment and target of criticism from newspapers across the nation.[1]

Casey was hired to finish the job in 1878.[1] Casey, then a lieutenant colonel and head of the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds in Washington, D.C., was known for his engineering skills and financial trustworthiness.[1] He developed an ingenious method to balance the foundation as workmen with picks shovels dug from either side in a coordinated effort. Eventually Casey's men replaced half the old foundation, making it 13 feet deeper and over twice as wide.[1]

Over 130 years later, after the monument was damaged by an earthquake in 2011, engineers tasked with repairing the structure consulted Casey's original papers to understand how it was built. The 21st Century engineers called Casey's work "brilliant."[1]

Other projectsEdit

Casey's other engineering projects included:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hill, John (7 January 2018). "R.I.'s Thomas Lincoln Casey, man behind the Washington Monument". Providence, RI: The Providence Journal. Retrieved 8 January 2018. 
  2. ^ [1][permanent dead link] Historic New England

This article contains public domain text from "Brigadier General Thomas Lincoln Casey". Portraits and Profiles of Chief Engineers. Archived from the original on March 6, 2005. Retrieved May 12, 2005. 

External linksEdit